Health Employees Superannuation Trust Australia (HESTA) is an Australian industry and public offer super fund founded in 1987 and dedicated to workers in health and community services.
It has more than 820,000 members (of which more than 80 per cent are women) and $40 billion in assets that it invests around the world on behalf of its members. This makes it the largest industry fund for people in health and community services. Membership is also open to the general public.
It has regularly received industry recognition for its performance and achievements in the form of rankings, ratings and awards. Its fees are competitive compared to other super funds and members can consolidate their super from other funds.
How does HESTA invest its members’ money?
HESTA strongly promotes socially responsible investment, seeking out companies that have the best combination of environmental and social performance, as well as financial and governance. This is because it believes that impacts on the planet and its people can affect the value of individual investments. And this in turn can affect its long-term returns to members.
Such impacts might include:
- Environmental change: A business may experience increased exposure to fires or floods, or impact on crop growing because of changing weather patterns
- Changes in government policy: Governments may set carbon pricing policies or renewable energy targets, or set fines for non-compliance, potentially causing changes in global market demand
Consequently, when making investment decisions, HESTA considers factors like climate change, as well as traditional financial and business risk factors.
Responsible investing is significant for HESTA and other super funds because they invest over a very long timeframe. Therefore, issues like climate change and the government regulation around it can affect investment value. Also, because they are broadly invested across many markets, the resilience of the economy as a whole is important.
Other socially responsible policies
HESTA also plays an active role in the Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC). This group currently represents institutional investors with total funds of approximately $1 trillion, as well as others in the investment community who are conscious of the impact of climate change on investments. The IGCC aims to benefit its members and unit holders by encouraging government policies and investment practices that deal with the risks and opportunities of climate change.
HESTA is also committed to working and fostering relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through its Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). One aspect of this is attempting to create career and supplier opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, both within HESTA itself, as well as the superannuation industry and the broader business sector.
The company is also developing collaborative partnerships to help people who may be at risk of financial exclusion. HESTA does this by looking for financially inclusive opportunities for its members, employees and stakeholders. It also examines and analyses the reasons behind why members may need to make financial hardship claims, as well as offering further assistance to help them escape financial hardship.
Sustainability within HESTA
As well as promoting socially responsible investment, HESTA continues to develop sustainable practices within its organisation, such as:
- Ensuring that customers can choose online and mobile communications rather than paper
- Choosing suppliers that share its values and have sustainable practices
- Partnering with Qantas to offset its carbon footprint through an Indigenous carbon-farming project
- Giving its team members time to volunteer for charities or community groups
- Keeping track of the amount of energy used and waste produced by the company, and seeking ways to lower them
What insurances are offered?
HESTA offers the usual insurances offered by super funds, including:
- Default income protection (IP) until the age of 67
- Default death cover – up to 75 years
- Optional lump-sum total and permanent disablement (TPD) cover to age 70
- Up to 12 months’ free cover during parental leave (some conditions apply)
You can also choose additional cover above the default, or customise your cover in a ways that best suits your personal needs.
How do I become a member?
To sign up for a superannuation account with HESTA, you must be:
- An Australian resident
- At least 18 years of age
- Earning at least $450 per month before tax from an employer
If you are under the age of 18, but earning more than $450 per month before tax, you must be working more than 30 hours per week to qualify for super.